Is the Lord your Shepherd?

Is the Lord your Shepherd?

Encouraging Word

A shepherd and his sheep have a very close relationship. The shepherd is responsible for his sheep. He provides for them by meeting their needs of food, water and rest. He protects them since they cannot defend themselves. He leads and directs them on the path and to the place he has for them.

According to John 10, we learn some things about the special relationship between the shepherd and the sheep. John 10:3 says that the shepherd calls his own sheep by name and he leads them. In John 10:11 it says the shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.

What do we learn about the sheep? John 10:14 says the sheep know the shepherd and he knows them.  John 10:3 says the sheep hear the voice of the shepherd. In John 10:4,5 it says the sheep follow the shepherd as he goes before them. The sheep will not follow a stranger. The sheep learn to trust the shepherd.

Psalm 23 points out that we need to make sure that the Lord Jesus is our shepherd. Psalm 23:1 says, “The Lord is my shepherd…”  This emphasizes a close, personal relationship. Romans 10:9 says that we need to confess Jesus as Lord of our life.

As sheep, we must know the shepherd. Not just “know about” Him, but know Him! (Philippians 3:10) We must listen (hear the voice) of the shepherd. We need to follow (obey) the shepherd and trust Him completely.

Jesus, the good shepherd has laid down His life for us, His sheep (John 10:11). I encourage you to make sure that the Lord is your Shepherd!

-Tony Cooper 

Celebrating 27 Years of Service as Exec. Director, Jimmie Hale Mission

www.jimmiehalemission.com

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Out of Balance?

Out of Balance?

Bringing Out the Winner

I have had 16 knee surgeries in my lifetime. As you can imagine, I have spent a LOT of time in rehab. The greatest challenge to getting back to normal activity isn’t necessarily strength, although that is VERY important. It really boils down to balance. If your repaired leg isn’t as strong as the other leg, you will always be a little off balance. Another injury is likely to occur.

Over the years, we have dealt with thousands of dysfunctional families, all of whom are in some way out of balance. Why have so many parents and families lost the balance in their lives?

One of the greatest challenges we face as parents is knowing when to be tough and when to be lenient. Too many times, one parent is the easy touch and the other is an immovable hardliner. This issue is magnified when both parents are too soft or too hard. It is an especially tough circumstance when you are a single parent trying to do the job of both parents.

Try following the points below:

  1. Ask God for wisdom (this is the best start!)
  2. Pray without ceasing
  3. Have open communication with your spouse
  4. Define clear goals
  5. Communicate those goals to your child
  6. Keep realistic expectations
  7. Always be consistent

Nobody has it all together.  Just do your best, trusting God for the “balance.”

John Croyle, Founder, Big Oak Ranch 

Author, Who You Are/Defying the Circumstances that Define Us, Bringing Out the Winner in Your Child, The Two Minute Drill to Manhood and Raising a Princess, www.bigoak.org

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HGTV’s Chip Gaines Pens Capital Gaines

HGTV’s Chip Gaines Pens Capital Gaines

Best Books

Three years ago, I remodeled my house. I started in the attic and worked my way down through two levels, room by room. I started on Memorial Day and ended around Labor Day. Tackling unfamiliar tasks and watching each room change into something new and fresh was a great adventure. It was hard work and took lots of time, but it was one of the best summers I’ve ever had.

Transforming tired houses into welcoming homes is what Chip and Joanna Gaines do, and for them it isn’t just a job. It is a calling, a way of making the world a better place. Capital Gaines (Thomas Nelson/Hardcover $24.99) is Chip’s story. It is an honest and fun account of mistakes made and blessings received. Interwoven into the remarkable success of the Gaines’ Magnolia enterprises and their “Fixer Upper” television series on HGTV, is Chip Gaines’ deep love for family and a strong faith in God’s leadership.

Capital Gaines is about being brave and following God’s leading, even when it’s risky. It’s about finding beauty in places others overlook and being passionate and determined when the going gets tough. Chip believes that businesses and families are gifts from God. We should be good stewards of those gifts by working hard, having faith, and learning as much as we can. Chip urges us to find our calling, then do our best and trust God for the rest.

Darrel Holcombe, Owner
Sanctuary Christian Books and Gifts
Colonial Promenade, Alabaster

205-663-2370

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Evangelist Scott Dawson on the Reason for the Season…

Evangelist Scott Dawson on the Reason for the Season…

Christmas: The Most Wonderful Time of the Year to Share Jesus! 

Scott Dawson has served in ministry for thirty years and has shared the Gospel with a million people over the last decade here in the U.S and abroad. He and his wife Tarra and their children Hunter and Hope will celebrate this Christmas at home in Birmingham, Ala.

Although I would not admit it publicly, down deep inside I had been lulled into thinking that Christmas revolved around family, festivities, and Jesus’ birth. Oh, I would do all the outward Christian Christmas duties: attend services, give to the red kettle, and if it were really needed I would serve in the nursery. But all of these were a precursor for the food-overloaded, family-focused Christmas. It was an event in Knoxville, Tenn. that messed up my self-absorbed mindset.

A church had rented out the Thompson Boling Arena for a Christmas show that would occur three consecutive days with 8 performances. Until then, I had thought that Christmas “Cantatas” included a few carols, some cheesy humor, and of course, a live camel. This group asked me to preach the Gospel at the conclusion of the show and offer an invitation for people to respond. Seriously? Who would respond during a Christmas show? Again, at the risk of being vulnerable, I really had succumbed to the idea of Christmas being commercialized to the point of no return. By the time the weekend was over, 1200 plus people had responded to the invitation. I was forever changed into thinking that Christmas really is the “Most wonderful time of the year” … to share Jesus!

 Who will you invite? According to Thom Rainer, CEO of Lifeway, Christmas Eve services have by far the most non-churched people in attendance than any church service throughout the year. It makes sense. During Christmas, people want to connect with community. This could be a result of the constant reminder of family and community connected to Christmas. Maybe it is a result of childhood memories of Christmases past, or the barrage of advertising showing groups of people gathering for Christmas celebrations. In any case, I hope every church will not only conduct Christmas Eve services, but will also include a clear presentation of the meaning of Christmas and offer an opportunity for participants to “Call upon the name of the Lord to be saved” (Romans 10:13). Encourage your pastor and staff to make it a central theme of the service and bring non-churched friends and family members to the service. Some Churches offer tickets or reservations due to overwhelming demand for seats.  Check early and often to get seats and fill them with people who are searching for “Hope.”

How can you share Christ outside of the church service?  The opportunities are as endless as the list of Hallmark Christmas movies!

  • Tell THE Story. Offer to share the meaning of Christmas during your office or class party. It isn’t a revival service, but in a sincere way you can share a brief explanation of why we celebrate Christmas and its true meaning. I have been invited to office parties to share the meaning of Christmas and every time I am overwhelmed by the positive response from attendees.

Every Christmas my wife’s family gathers around the Christmas tree for the reading of the Christmas story from Luke Chapter 2. It is a reminder that although the kids are ready to rip through the wrapping paper for their store-bought presents, the best gift was given through the birth of Christ (1 John 10:10 … I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.). Take the time to explain to those who gather around your tree the real reason for Christmas.

  • Celebrate. One of our personal family favorites is the “Birthday Cake” for Jesus. When our children, Hunter and Hope, were young we started our Christmas morning with a birthday party for Jesus. If you think about it, it is HIS birthday! We would sing the song, pray, and then cut a special cake- usually a chocolate fudge pound cake. As they grew older, what was once a teaching lesson became a long-standing tradition! 
  • Give Thanks for THE Gift. If not careful, even Christians will fall prey to the secularization of our Savior’s birth. There is so much to do before “The Big Day” arrives that includes gifts, lights, food and family arriving for visits. In this whirlwind of commotion, you too will begin to wonder why is there all this fuss about one day. It is then we should stop and remember the real reason for the season. In the Christmastime favorite, “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” Linus recites Luke 2 under the spotlight to a silent crowd. At his conclusion, Linus says, “That’s what Christmas is all about.” Before you give one gift to anyone else this Christmas, thank God for giving you the greatest gift, His Son, Jesus.

The message of Christ can be summed up in the three gifts the wise men gave him-  gold, frankincense and myrrh. Gold was a gift given to a King. Frankincense is a gumming substance that was used in burning for worship (Exodus 30:34). Myrrh is a substance that was used during preparing for death. Gold was given because He is King of Kings. Frankincense was a gift to the Lord. Myrhh was the annointment for burial (as a sacrifice for our sins He bled, died and rose again. (1 Corinthians 15:3).

  • Be Intentional. You will need to prepare your heart to be ready to take advantage of the opportunities God presents to share His life saving message.  Most of the time the opportunities are present, but we don’t take advantage of them because we are not living in expectancy.  Be ready. As I Peter 3:15 says “but in your hearts regard Christ the Lord as holy, ready at any time to give a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you.”
  • Pray. Ask the Lord to open doors for you to present the meaning of Christmas and for Him to prepare hearts to listen. As I grow older, I realize that I work like it depends on me, but I pray because I KNOW it depends on Him. Pray for your family. Pray for your friends. Pray for your community.
  • Don’t Worry.  The one thing you do not want to do is to become stressed out because you are trying to share Hope with others. Take a breath. Walking in joy and peace, will be attractive to others.
  • Remember. On December 26, January 26, and every month in 2018, remember THE Gift we have been given. Like the Christmas tree the day after Christmas- bare and without gifts- a life without Christ is empty. We have an incredible Savior that can save anyone, anytime, anywhere. I encourage you to share the hope of Christ this Christmas and all year long!

Scott Dawson 

Scott Dawson is the Staff Evangelist and Chief Development Officer for the Scott Dawson Evangelistic Association, www.scottdawson.org. He also developed www.strengthtostand.com into one of the largest student conferences in America. In addition to serving in ministry, Dawson is running for Governor of Alabama in 2018, www.scottdawson.com.

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Laurie’s December Blog

Laurie’s December Blog

The Reason for the Season

It is such a thrill to see the minds and hearts of young children begin to understand what the birth of Jesus means for them. Which brings me to the tricky part. As parents, we know that our children are not only absorbing the messages of Christmas we share with them about Jesus’ birth but they are also being exposed to the commercial side of the holiday season. A balance is tough, whether you have children or not!

Growing up, my parents used the advent wreath to help us focus on the true meaning of Christmas. During nightly, family devotions in December, one or more candles on the wreath were lit as we celebrated the coming of Jesus. As more candles were lit each week, the closer my brothers and I knew we were to the BIG day! As a parent, I have great memories of sharing this same Christmas tradition as well as an Advent Calendar with my sons and visually emphasizing to them the real meaning of the season. I encourage you to take time this Christmas to continue or establish traditions that allow you to celebrate the reason for the season and share that message with family and friends.

From Birmingham Christian Family to you and your family-

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

-Laurie Stroud 

Founder, The Christian Family Publication, Inc.

www.BirminghamChristian.com

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Birmingham Christian Family DECEMBER GIVE-AWAY!

TO SAY THANK YOU for reading and supporting the businesses and organizations that advertise with us and make spreading Good News possible, we have a great giveaway for you this month!

  1. Family 4-Pack to the Nutcracker performed by the Birmingham Ballet- Four tickets to the December 16 evening performance at the BJCC.  Simply visit Facebook.com/BirminghamChristianFamily, LIKE/FOLLOW our Facebook page AND Share the Nutcracker give-away post to be entered to win! Offer Ends 12/12/17. Winner Announced on Facebook Wednesday, 12/13/2017!
  2. Mixed Case of Cookies from Bud’s Best! 2 Winners! Sign Up for our E-newsletter at www.birminghamchristian.com OR visit Facebook.com/BirminghamChristianFamily, LIKE/FOLLOW our Facebook page AND Share the Bud’s Best Give-Away post to be entered to win! Offer Ends12/19/17. Winners Announced on Facebook Wednesday, 12/20/17!

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Local Medical Advance Keeps Missionary on the Move

Local Medical Advance Keeps Missionary on the Move

Healthy Living

Andrews Sports Medicine & Orthopaedic Center physicians, Drs. Jeffrey Davis and K. David Moore, standing beside the Mako Robotic-Arm Assisted Surgery System used to help patients like missionary Tim Prewitt. “I’d like for people to understand this is not something where I wind up a robot and then go get a cup of coffee,” says K. David Moore, M.D., one of the first surgeons in the area to utilize the innovative technology that allows him to personalize total knee, partial knee and total hip replacement procedures to each of his patients. “Surgeons are still doing the entire operation, it’s just that the robot guides us to make the boning cuts according to our plan for the patient’s individual anatomy.”

With church plants, Bible Institutes and humanitarian efforts in 13 countries on three different continents, World Reach founder Tim Prewitt is accustomed to international travel up to eight times a year. Last year, however, extreme hip pain was limiting his mobility. Thanks to a talented surgeon and an advanced robotic-arm assisted surgery available here in Birmingham, he is back to the mission field he loves.

As a young professional, Prewitt spent nine years working for Sears, Roebuck and Company before he began to feel that God was ushering him out of corporate management and into full time ministry. He and his wife, Carol, joined three other men in founding World Reach in 1981, and today the mission organization establishes Bible Institutes and indigenous, self-sustaining churches around the world. Prewitt’s travels often include encouraging staff or teaching in an Institute, but a year ago an x-ray of his right hip showed significant deterioration that could no longer be managed with anti-inflammatory medication. “The doctor told me it was bone-on-bone. It was exacerbated by the fact that I travel so extensively, walking and carrying suitcases and so forth,” he explains. Every move he made forced him to shift effort to the left side of his body to avoid pain and limited mobility.

Prewitt found that Andrews Sports Medicine & Orthopaedic Center was the first and only orthopaedic practice in Birmingham to offer robotic-assisted total knee, partial knee and total hip replacements using the Mako Robotic-Arm Assisted Surgery System. K. David Moore, M.D., says its technology has been a game changer in terms of accuracy and precision. “Traditionally, we’ve really done these operations based on the law of averages, using average anatomy. There are some ways you can accommodate for variations in people’s bone structure, but it’s been very imprecise. The Mako allows us to really customize each operation to the individual.” In knee replacements, for example, the Mako’s precision in placing an implant speeds the recovery and improves the longevity of the results. In hip replacements, dislocation is less common, as is unnecessary postoperative differences in leg length.

A Peruvian pastor thanks Tim Prewitt for helping his village with humanitarian relief related to flooding earlier this year. In Peru, World Reach ministries include a bilingual Christian School, medical and dental clinics, children’s and youth ministries, a Mobile Bible Institute, and church plants.

Dr. Moore’s treatment for Prewitt began with a CT scan of the joint and the construction of a 3-dimensional model that allowed him to plan the procedure in virtual reality a week prior to the surgery. Prewitt, who recently celebrated his 75th birthday, says his surgery took place at St. Vincent’s Birmingham on a Wednesday morning, and he was walking by Wednesday afternoon and home on Thursday. “I am 100 percent better. I can now move free of pain, without thinking I’m just causing more injury to what is already there,” he says. “I have complete freedom in terms of movement, range of motion.”

The demand for joint replacements is expected to rise in the next decade, and as the baby boomer generation sees a need for relief of arthritis symptoms beyond conservative treatment measures, the Mako System allows for a personalized surgery based on each patient’s specific diagnosis and anatomy. “This generation of people has been more active on the whole than previous generations and less tolerant of limiting their lifestyle because of joint pain,” Dr. Moore explains. “We certainly think that is important not just for quality of life but quantity of life. Once you stop moving, your health deteriorates fairly quickly. We want to make sure that people can stay active as long as possible.”

Now able to travel comfortably again, Prewitt says World Reach plans to bring on additional missionaries and add six new Bible Institutes in the countries he serves in 2018. For more information on how you can get involved in World Reach’s global efforts, visit www.world-reach.org. To connect with a physician who can help with conservative arthritis treatment or provide more information on the Mako System, visit AndrewsSportsMedicine.com or call 205-939-3699.

-Camille Smith Platt

 

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500TH Anniversary of the Reformation Celebration

500TH Anniversary of the Reformation Celebration

Special Feature

Rev. Dr. Gregory Seltz will speak at the November 15 500th Anniversary of the Reformation Celebration at Hodges Chapel Samford University. Learn more at www.vestavialutheran.org

Join Christians throughout the world in observing the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation. The Lutheran Church of Vestavia Hills is sponsoring a Reformation Celebration at Hodges Chapel on the campus of Samford University on November 15. There will be preservice music by the Shades Mt. Brass Quintet at 6:30pm and worship at 7 pm. Service music will feature hymns that are a confession of a Lutheran’s faith. Luther understood the significance of music: “Next to theology I give music the highest and greatest honor.” Luther desired to communicate the Gospel message that sets people free from the bondage of sin. What better way to spread that message than to teach what we believe through music.

Rev. Dr. Gregory Steltz, who has served as speaker of the Lutheran Hour Radio Program from 2011 to 2017, will be the keynote speaker at the Reformation Celebration. Dr. Steltz follows in the footsteps of Dr. Walter A. Maier the first and founding speaker of the Lutheran Hour ministry that gained worldwide popularity in the 30’s and 40’s with the largest radio audience of the 20th century. The Lutheran Hour has a current audience of over 1 million listeners, airing on more than 1,600 stations across North America as well as the Armed Forces network.

Dr. Martin Luther gave the Reformation its impetus when he nailed the 95 theses to the church door of All Saints Church in Wittenberg, Germany on October 31, 1517. These theses called the church leaders to discuss major teachings of the church that Luther believed were contrary to Scripture and to stop the   unbiblical practice of selling indulgences which the common people were led to believe shorten time in purgatory and even forgave sins. As a young man, Luther had an obsessive fear that he stood under the judgment of a harsh God, “my sin lay heavy night and day” he wrote. In his study of Scripture, he discovered that a person’s relationship with God was a total gift – it is by grace through faith in what Jesus accomplished on the cross that a person stands justified before God. Man is not saved by doing good works but by the good work that Jesus did when He died on the cross for the sins of the world. Luther taught that God does not need our good works but our neighbor does. Good works are the evidence that the person is walking and living in a faith relationship with God through Jesus Christ.

Martin Luther’s reforms focused on these three solas: sola scriptura, sola gratica, and sola fide.  Scripture alone is the source of teaching and doctrine; grace alone is responsible for sins forgiven; faith alone receives the gift of a relationship with God for now and in eternity.

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is a gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.  For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”  (Ephesians 2:8-10)


-Rev. J. Mark Kuehnert

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101 Mobility: Improving Lives in Our Community

101 Mobility: Improving Lives in Our Community

Faith at Work

Owners of 101 Mobility Alabama, Derek and Ashley Gann, with their children Reagan and D.C. at their 101 Mobility office on Highway 280 near Greystone.

Birmingham Christian Family recently sat down with 101 Mobility of Alabama’s Derek Gann who shared with us how God is using his team to serve others in our community.

Q. How does owning 101 Mobility allow you to live out your faith in the marketplace?

A. As business owners, our main objective is to serve: to serve our customers, community and our employees. My wife Ashley and I believe that emulating the traits of Christ is our greatest earthly calling. From owning a business, to leading my family, and rearing our children, it all points to Jesus. Because 101 Mobility focuses on improving life, what a ministry! We get the opportunity to help people navigate through a difficult and often fragile time. When families and individuals are faced with circumstances that are often beyond their control whether it’s the reality of aging parents, a tragic accident that claims one’s mobility, or a family member with a disability it is easy to feel discouraged or broken. That’s the beauty of Jesus and what we get to do as owners of 101 Mobility. We get to be a part of restoring others. We can bring back some hope and dignity. We make the days ahead easier than the days before. 101 Mobility provides mobility devices to help individuals regain that independence. We help families live longer in their homes and provide free face to face consultations that help guide customers through all their options and what works best for their needs.

Q. How does your faith impact how you run your business?

A. Simply put, our faith drives us. Each day we remind ourselves that all that we do on this side of eternity should all point to the greatness of Jesus. Even leading up to the decision to become business owners, every day was filled with prayer. We asked for wisdom, discernment and direction. Ashley and I feel that God has led us to right where we are and we must be faithful stewards of what we’ve been given. We think the greatest leader of all time is Jesus and we try daily to replicate those traits. Our faith doesn’t mean our business is void of difficult decisions or tough calls, but our faith guides us and reassures us of our purpose. We strongly believe that you have to have vision and our vision is to love our customers well, build strong community relationships, and provide top-notch service. These goals are all predicated on our faith and our hope to be a glimmer of light in what can be a dimmer time in one’s life.

Q. What is the most rewarding aspect of the business to you?

A. No question, the most rewarding aspect of our business is being able to give someone a new lease on life. No one wants to wake up
and discover they can no longer walk up their stairs or get around their house like they used to. So, when 101 Mobility can design a plan, unique to your needs, that gives you that freedom and independence back, it fills our heart and reminds us that each time a job is done, we’ve left one life a little better. The greatest gifts in life are truly the ones we give, not the ones we get. We are blessed to provide mobility devices that give back joy, that give back freedom, that give back hope. The stories we hear from the customers we serve can often leave tears in our own eyes, so being able to restore something that has been lost is the greatest reward of all.

-Learn more at www.Alabama.101Mobility.com or call 205-538-5692.†

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The Untouchable, Touched by Jesus

The Untouchable, Touched by Jesus

Encouraging Word

One of my favorite biblical accounts is recorded in Luke 5:12-14 in which Jesus heals a man with a serious medical condition.  Luke, a physician, described the man as one “full of leprosy,” meaning it was in an advanced stage. In Jesus day, this infectious disease made one religiously and socially unclean.  Lepers were ostracized and quarantined from society. No one wanted them around. They were considered the “untouchables.”  Leprosy was debilitating and caused one to feel helpless and hopeless. The leper was at a point of despair with no place to go and no one to turn to; until he saw Jesus.

Apparently, the leper had heard about Jesus and had faith that Jesus could do for him what others could not. Luke records that when the leper saw Jesus, he fell on his face in worship and implored Him saying, “Lord, if you are willing, You can make me clean.” What Jesus did next just blows me away. Jesus stretched out His hand and touched him, saying, “I am willing, be cleansed.” You were not supposed to touch a leper! Jesus didn’t have to touch him. He could just have said the word and the leper would have been healed. Yet, He touched this “untouchable!”

You see there is no sin too bad; no person too evil; no problem too big; no sickness so severe; and no one beyond God’s reach. If you will come to Jesus in faith, submitting to His will; He will touch you and make you whole. I’m reminded of the Bill Gaither song, “He Touched Me.”  It says, “shackled by a heavy burden; beneath a load of guilt and shame; then the hand of Jesus touched me; and now I am no longer the same.” I pray that Jesus has touched your life and made you clean and whole.

-Tony Cooper 

Celebrating 27 Years of Service as Exec. Director, Jimmie Hale Mission

www.jimmiehalemission.com

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